Friday, April 24, 2009

Becoming a Runner - Cody

The 2009 Boston Marathon has come and gone and I managed to survive it. It was amazing to think that all of the months of training came down to that one day, but it turned out that all of the work paid off. This was not the long suffer-fest that I had envisioned a marathon to be. The first third of the race was a blur. I had a fair amount of adrenaline going and some residual "what have I gotten myself into" feelings, so I spent most of my time making sure I was keeping a slow, steady pace. The middle part of the race was the toughest. I was having a hard time keeping a steady pace, there was a pretty good headwind, and it seemed like the mile markers were getting further and further apart. It was also at this point that I realized I was averaging ~10 minute miles and my dreams of a sub four-hour first marathon would not be coming true. Once I let that go and reorganized my goals to finish without walking and in less than 4.5 hours I started to feel better.

Then, as I neared Newton-Wellesley Hospital, the fun began. As I mentioned in my last post, I knew once I made it here I was home free. As a bonus, this is where I started seeing friends and coworkers who did a great job of cheering me on and even occasionally running a few steps with me. After NWH, I felt strong on the first two hills on Comm Ave, despite some quad cramps. Then about halfway up Heartbreak Hill I saw my good friend Heidi who prevented Heartbreak Hill from breaking me by running a few steps with me. Once I got to the top I knew I was home free and it was just a few more miles and one failed high-five attempt with my father-in-law (who knew it would be so hard to jump after 23 miles), and I was home free. The last mile of the Marathon was the fastest mile I ran, which felt great. Then it wasn't two minutes after crossing the finish line before I saw my wife waiting for me. What an experience.

My final time was 4:21:10, which was a little slower that I would have liked, but respectable for a first marathon. I think I did a poor job pacing myself, mostly due to inexperience with the distance. I really liked the program I used. I completed a marathon in a respectable time and I only averaged 10 miles per week with the majority of these miles done in 800m to one mile increments at maximum tolerable pace. I had longer distances planned, but chose to scale back the mileage even more because of some knee soreness. Also, down the stretch, I didn't do a great job getting in all of my workouts. So I was not confident in how I would handle the later miles or how I should pace myself. So for the race, I averaged just under 10-minute miles, but did my last mile in 8:06 and never felt like I was hitting the wall, so I clearly held back more than I should have. At the start of this I said to myself that I would run this, check it off my list, then stick with 5-10k runs. Now that I know I can do it, I want to go faster. Did I just become a runner?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Experience of a Lifetime – Sue

What a day! I can barely walk down stairs this morning, but the pain and soreness are worth having the chance to run the Boston Marathon!

The weekend was a bit of a blur with having my parents arrive in town, getting to the Expo for number pick up and trying to figure out the details of Marathon morning. One of the biggest stresses of the morning was what to wear. The weather was perfect for running, but with the forecast of strong headwinds, and a high of 48 degrees or so, I was debating on wearing running tights or shorts. I brought my shorts with me and thought I'd see what the majority were wearing when I got to Hopkinton.

After a pasta dinner with my family the night before, I tried to get to bed early, but it ended up being about 10:30 or so. The alarm went off at 5:50 - I got dressed, loaded up on Glide and had my usual pre-run multigrain English muffin with peanut butter and blueberry jam. I limited myself to one cup of coffee vs. my usual two, since I knew that could be an "issue" later. We left the house at 6:30 and had to pick up my friend, Joel who was the one who got injured while we trained, but felt OK enough to give it a go (and finished well under four hours!).

My husband drove us to the start and the killer 2 1/2 to 3 hour wait started, which included long lines for the porta johns. I stopped at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital medical tent to say hello to "my" physical therapist, Carl Faust, who promptly cracked my back as he's done during our sessions! My friend Paul Satwitcz was there as well, who encouraged me to wear the shorts - thanks Dr. Paul, good call!

It was finally time to get into our "corrals" for the start - on the way I finally saw my friend Diana who I had hoped to run with but we got separated by our numbers at the start, so didn't see her again until the finish. When I looked at my watch going over the start pad, it was 10:47 (for a 10:30 start), which was a testament to the large crowd of runners!

It was such a wild experience - the fans were incredible! Some were in costumes, offering food (and beer!) but all very supportive and encouraging. I tried to stay in the moment, meaning I was trying to really enjoy the experience and to take it all in. In Natick, I had a running friend of mine, John hop in to run along with me. He had his camera with him to try and capture some of the moments, especially the girls lined up in Wellesley! My ears were ringing by the time I made it through there. When I checked my watch going over the half-way mark in Wellesley, I was exactly at the two hour mark - 12:47, so I knew I was at the pace I had hoped for - about a nine-minute mile.

Going past the Hospital was exciting mainly since I was now on "home turf" - just down from the Hospital were my friends Jane and Dave who were ready to also run along with me - such great supportive friends! I had a lot of familiar faces cheering me on at the Fire Station, in particular my husband, kids and parents. I stopped to give quick kisses and was on my way up Heartbreak Hill. This is my usual running route, so I tried to focus on that although the hills feel quite different with 17 miles behind them! Once I got to the top, it felt great to put that behind me, and then it was on to Boston College, which was crazy! I made the comment that I couldn't believe the energy they still had for cheering, when my friend Dave reminded me that I still had energy for running! By now my quads were really burning- thankfully Jane had two Advil with her, which I took promptly when she joined me, but I knew at that point I could not stop to walk since I would not be able to run again.

So on we went, through Brookline, and I pointed out to my pals when I caught sight of the Citgo sign. Yeah! I looked at my watch and saw that I was at 2:33, which meant I had only 14 minutes to get through two miles to make the four-hour qualifying time for my age group. I was quite sure I could not kick out a seven-minute pace at that point. I did have enough to move ahead a bit, so my friend Jane dropped back and had the guys run me in. My legs were killing me, in fact the word that comes to mind is "pulp", so I just had to do the best I could. I crossed at 4:03 - just three minutes past qualifying again - but was SO happy to cross the finish line! Once I handed in my chip, and they put the medal around my neck was the moment I got really choked up, and even now get teary writing about it. I got home to many calls and emails congratulating me and can't really describe how awesome it feels to have accomplished running the Boston Marathon! If I never get the chance to do it again, I had the experience of a lifetime and I know memories that will last me a lifetime. Thanks for indulging my recounting of the day - this is one of the ways I can document it and will always be able to go back to this.

Thanks again to Newton-Wellesley for giving me this chance - it never would've happened otherwise. Now, off to work - a bit late, but I'll get there....slowly!

Better Than I Expected – Steve

It was a great day and better than I would have ever expected. Of course I didn't sleep well the night before so you never know how things are going to go. I awoke early and saw that the temperature was only 36 and that really concerned me. What am I going to wear? It was borderline cold and should it be tights and a long sleeve shirt? I opted for a long-sleeve shirt under my race shirt and shorts. The head winds were expected to be maxing out at 20. My wife drove me right into Hopkinton to a friend’s house at 7:30 and I would stay there until it was time to line up for the second wave of runners at 10:30. It was so nice to stay in a warm house with flush toilets. At 10:00, I went to the Athletes’ Village in my old clothes and dropped off my baggage at the bus. I proceeded to warm-up with a run to the corrals for the start at 10:30. The weather was now clear, and the temps were in the mid 40s. I was now excited but not sure how my legs would hold up. Would my ileal psoas cause a problem?

The race started and right away I had tightness in my anterior thigh. Would it get worse? I just focused on keeping my time close to pace time to qualify and hope for the best. The run through Hopkinton, Ashland and Framingham was uneventful and I had many people shouting out my name because it was on my shirt. I couldn't wait until I got to Natick to see my family and especially my daughter. If I had any chance of qualifying it would be because of Linsey. As it was, just having her at my side helped me keep going. She often encouraged me to keep the pace up and "just have a good time".

As we approached the Hospital, I was excited...hopefully there would be a lot of people cheering for me, people I knew. I was a bit disappointed. There were very few familiar faces, but maybe I didn't notice them. I started to get very focused on completing the run. We made the turn at the Fire Station and the real race began. It was brutal but Linsey continued with her encouragement. The last hill just past the 20-mile mark was a real highlight. This is the spot where my mother and father often watched me run the Marathon and today my mother was there along with my wife, son and his girlfriend Rachel. Everyone was cheering me on to make it to the top of the hill. An extra special highlight was seeing both Dr. Rockett seniors on the hill. So I made it to the top and now the second half of the challenge began...could I knock off the time lost on the uphill. I refocused and off I went. I pushed myself as fast I could to try to qualify but alas I would come up just a little short at 3:48:55. After I made my way crossed the finish line I gave my daughter a big hug and thanked her for making it all possible. Linsey made it to a hotel to clean up and I went off to the medical tent to help care for the downtrodden runners that came in after I did. I might see if there is a Marathon in a month’s time that I can try to qualify at so I can run with my daughter, the whole course....Did I really write that I would run another marathon?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Final Prerace Entry – Steve

This has been one of my toughest marathons to prepare for. First I was very excited in the beginning to be chosen to represent Newton-Wellesley Hospital. The training started out hard, difficult with many aches and pains from not running consistently and going the longer distance. I wasn't sure whether I would be able to do the distance again. Even for an experienced marathoner, the distance seems to be longer as we get older. After completing many of my longer runs I started to feel more confident that the distance would be a reality. Once I was able to complete my longest run of 25 miles I was sure that distance was in my pocket, but now I have become greedy. I would like to become a qualified runner again and Monday, I am hoping for a 3:45 time. It is in my reach but I won't be disappointed if I don't make it in that time. I do have one thing helping me in this pursuit. My daughter, Linsey will be running with me from the Hospital to the finish line. This should be enough incentive to make it in time. She will be a very positive force in my final mile of the Marathon. Here's hoping for a good run. Thank you to all that have wished me well in this years Marathon!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Looking Forward to Race Day – Cody

Ahhh taper week. It’s nice to have some scaled down workouts and some extra rest days after several months of regimented training. I definitely need the rest because Sunday morning I woke up feeling like I was starting a chest cold. I did a short run that day that felt much harder than a lot of the longer ones, which didn't make for a big confidence boost. It’s now Thursday and it is getting much better, but I can still feel it when I get my heart rate up. Hopefully that will improve before race day.

I'm really looking forward to the experience of the race day. It’s been a long time since I've run in a really large race. The last one I did was a 10k called the Bolder Boulder in 2003. It’s a 10k in Boulder, CO that draws about 40,000 runners and people line the streets cheering you on. Its amazing how much less tired you feel in an environment like that compared to a run on your own. From what I've seen and heard from other who have fun it, Boston has the same kind of energy along the route and should be a great time.

My strategy for the race is pretty simple. Pace myself, keep on moving and if something starts to hurt......keep moving and worry about that after the race. Once I hit Newton-Wellesley Hospital, I'm on my home turf and I think I can definitely make it to the finish from there no matter what shape I'm in. I live in Cleveland Circle, so I've run Comm. Ave between Newton-Wellesley and my house several times, and I've run Beacon to downtown several more.

In my first post, I said that I was taking a different approach to marathon training with fewer miles on the road and more time in the gym. On Monday I get to complete my personal case study and see how this pans out. For my final post I'll talk a bit about my experience with the race and we can also look at my race time, my average miles ran per week and I'll let you know if I would use this plan again. In the mean time, any guesses about what my average weekly mileage was?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Winding Down – Sue

Now that the Marathon is less than a week away, my focus is on winding down. I ran eight miles yesterday, which helped burn off some extra Easter holiday calories! I think I will have a couple more shorter runs and try to get some rest! I am now thinking about the details of picking up my bib number at the Expo, how I will get to Hopkinton, as well as where I will meet up with my husband and kids during the race, and hopefully at the finish! It looks like it will be an early morning next Monday, since I have to get to the Hopkinton State Park for the shuttle bus to the start. I will be looking to meet up with my best pal, Diana, who qualified last year and who I'm hoping to run with for at least a little while.

My usual obsession with the weather continues, although I imagine I am not the only one watching now! It looks like it may be partly cloudy in the low 50s, which would be good. I certainly hope the rain holds off since I would really hate to run in rain or wind for 26.2 miles! However it goes, I am sure it will be a great, and memorable, experience. And thanks to Newton-Wellesley Hospital for the great Adidas running gear!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Looking Forward to the Race! – Cody

Two weeks until the big day! I'm now getting the question "are you nervous???" with increasing frequency. The answer is… not yet. For now I'm going off of the assumption that I've been using the right plan for my body and that I'll be able to get myself to the end somehow. Right now I'm focusing on trying to stay on track with my training plan. I'm finding it easier and easier to talk myself out of a workout here and there, probably because there is only a short time between now and the race, I don't know how much more fitness I will be developing. I'm looking forward to a lighter week next week to get ready for the race and I'm really looking forward to the race.

On a different note, interesting things have been going on with my sore knee lately. Thankfully it now hasn't really hurt for two consecutive 13-mile runs. Unfortunately it hurts even worse if I pedal a bike for more than two minutes. This is good news for that Marathon, but bad news for the MS Cape Cod Getaway that I've been planning to ride with a team from Newton-Wellesley to benefit Multiple Sclerosis research. It’s a two day, bike ride that is either 75 miles per day or 100 miles on the first day and 75 on the second. I'm planning on doing the longer version. Because of this sore knee, my cross-training options are backward from what I would have liked. It would have been perfect if I could have used the bike to cross train for the Marathon and get some miles in for the MS Getaway, which is ideal because I like riding my bike better than running. Now it looks like I'll be doing the opposite: running to get in shape for the bike ride. I think my best bet is not to worry about the bike ride and focus on running in two weeks, then sort out what I'm going to do about the bike ride later. In one of my previous posts I said that I don't think that I was built for endurance events, but between the Marathon and the ride, by the end of the summer maybe all that will have changed!

Two Weeks! – Sue

I can hardly believe it's now two weeks away! I know it's getting closer, not just because the calendar says it, but because the snow is finally gone, I've seen some spring flowers and the landscapers are out in force! The stretch on Comm. Ave along the route always starts to get spruced up about now, and it has always been a reminder that the Marathon is getting closer.

I did a 12-mile run last Monday in the drizzle, which I should be used to by now, and had my 10-year-old daughter's iPod for company. I found High School Musical, Taylor Swift and Colbie Calliet to be pretty entertaining actually! If there is good music going along the course, which could make all the difference (along with some nice weather of course)!

After a couple runs during the week, I did a 14 miler this Sunday. This is my last of my longer runs. I went out with two of my guy running friends, one of whom is bouncing back from the injury he had on our long run from Hopkinton. He seems to be back on track based on the pace he was keeping. He is a fast runner, but we can usually run together on shorter runs, however yesterday, I tried to keep up and really felt it by the end of the run. My legs started to feel heavy, and it made me realize I have got to pace myself so I avoid "hitting the wall" during the Marathon. I tried to stay hydrated, and even had two GU to help on the energy front.

I was glad to have my PT appointment today with Carl Faust who has been able to work out a significant amount of the "knots" in my hamstring, so I was able to stretch that leg a good deal more than when we started out - yeah! I have to wonder where I would've been without his help at this point since I know I would've just tried to work it out on my own - or would've tried to mask the soreness with Advil frankly (not a good choice, I know).

Cross Training – Steve

Well I was itching for a long run this weekend but knew that it would hurt my overall performance on Marathon day. During this past week I did several short 25-30 minute sprints around my town and this weekend came and I rested on Saturday. I was glad I did because on Sunday it was spectacular. The temps were in the 50s and I was ready for a little cross training. I hadn't been on my road bike since the fall and I was eager to ride. I rode for 26 miles and I felt great. The ileal psoas was still a little sore but better. Hopefully I will be able to get in a short run this week and keep stretching out the hips.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Last Long Run! – Steve

You could not ask for a better day to train for a marathon. Just like Marathon day, I was unsure what to wear. It was cool and in the low 40s and there was a chance that it might be sunny by the time I finished this long run. My plan was to run from the starting line to Natick. Briefly stop at my house, at the 10-mile mark, reload with fluid, GU and change my attire if the weather had changed. On my ride out to Hopkinton I saw hundreds of runners preparing for that final long run in April. I got to Hopkinton center and there were still groups preparing to run. I was ready for whatever would come to me today; it should be a good one.

My goal was to complete at least 24 miles in any time that it takes. The run from Hopkinton was nice and steady and a bit fast without any discomforts. I was taking fluids every fifteen minutes and GU once on the run to Natick. I was expecting to run just under nine-minute miles but I was consistently running 8:30 or faster. This is always something that every runner is concerned with – starting out too fast and burning up at the hills. I got to my house is less time than expected; refueled, changed to warm weather gear and sunglasses and yes, voided. I was off again like a shot and caught up to many of the people that I had previously passed. I got to Wellesley and the half marathon spot in a time that should qualify me for next year...will that be possible? I continued along through the rest of Wellesley and Wellesley Hills and then the slow climb past the Hospital. Things in my left ileal psoas started to tighten up. I made it to the police station and now the long slow climb up the first of three heartbreaks. I pushed on through the first two and then the monster and Johnny Kelley's Heartbreak. Well I made it up all of them but had slowed quite a bit; would I still be a qualifier? It was 21 miles at the top of heartbreak and now I had to run back to the Hospital for my ride home. If someone offered me a ride I probably would have taken it but no, I must push on. It was hard to run down to the Hospital, especially since there were both downhills and then little teaser up hills. I made it back to the Hospital and found myself to be very dry and then consumed quite a bit of water found in the car. I measured the run to be 25.1, which means I would have only a little more than a mile left. That would be just before Kenmore Square. Now I just have to hope that I can get something done to my tendonitis in my ileal psoas. If I can get rid of that between now and the Marathon then I might be able to qualify again. Now it is easy training and hopefully a bit of biking to cross train.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Getting Closer – Steve

This past weekend was strictly skiing and patrolling, using very different muscles from running and resting my ileal psoas. Tuesday I had an hour run with some good hill work and Wednesday a relatively fast short half-hour run. Today I will run for about fifty minutes and Friday I will take the day off in preparation for my long run on the Marathon course. I will start out with many other trainers in Hopkinton. I plan to start out about 8:30 on Hopkinton Common and run to the top of Heartbreak Hill and around BC to complete a 24-mile run. I expect to stop in Natick at my house (approximately 10 miles), and refuel. The weather should be perfect and hopefully I will have a lot of company for the run.

My “Yoga” Routine – Cody

So this has been another good week of training. The knee has behaved itself and I was able to do a nice 12-mile run without pain. The pace wasn't fast, but it didn't hurt and I felt like I could have kept going. Otherwise, I've been putting in a significant amount of time at the gym with a fairly aggressive hip-strengthening program and I'm encouraged in that I feel like I'm getting stronger. I've also added a dynamic warm-up before each program, which has better research for injury protection versus static stretching, only I don't think it has been studied for overuse injuries. I've found it useful though since I have a tendency to just jump right into things.

I've been told that a few people have been interested in my "yoga" program. I put yoga in quotes, because I'm pretty sure if someone who taught yoga saw me doing it, they might see that its yoga based, but I'm pretty much doing my own thing. I have tight hip flexors and hamstrings so that's the focus of the program. I don't know the names of any of the poses except downward dog so hopefully my explanations make some kind of sense.

Bend forward, back relaxed, knees slightly bend. I feel a stretch in my hammies. Arch your back so your trunk is parallel to the ground, knees bent as needed. I also get this one in the hammies.

This next part happens several times, so I'll just call it "transition to downward dog":

Hands on the ground, body in push-up position. Lower down in a push-up, hold for a second, then push shoulders up while hips stay down. Push back into downward dog.

Step one foot forward and do a hip flexor lunge stretch with knee on the ground.
Step back and transition to downward dog, repeat with the other side

Step one foot forward and do a standing hip flexor lunge stretch. Come back up and go into Triangle Pose (ok, I know the names of two of them). Back to standing lunge on the same side, then transition to downward dog. Repeat on the other side.

Step one leg forward and do what I call a pigeon stretch (don't know if that's the official yoga name). Transition to downward dog. Repeat on the other side. And you're all stretched out.

I never thought I would be blogging about yoga!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Four Weeks Away – Sue

Thanks to Carl for the advice! I certainly was not going to question your good advice – so doing a 16 miler was fine with me! I did do that Monday morning in the cold, with gusty winds! Will spring ever get here? My fear is that after training in this cold, snowy winter, we'll get an 80-degree day for the Marathon! I just have to focus on what I can control and forget the rest.

I didn't have any running friends with me today, but on Comm. Ave, I did briefly run along with a girl who was training for the Marathon also. It turns out she is a nurse on 3 West – small world and good luck!

Now that the Marathon is four weeks away, I am glad to have gotten the longer runs out of the way, and hope it will be enough to get me over the finish line.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Better Week – Cody

This has been a much better training week than the previous few. I'm still having some knee pain, but on Sunday I was able to do an eight-mile run with no pain at all and I felt like I could easily have kept going. I've been cross training and I've been going pretty aggressively after some lateral hip strengthening, which is where I think the root of the problem is. Unfortunately I don't have the time to build the necessary strength for this to not be a problem during the race, so it looks like I will just have to deal with it. That being said, I've decided to forgo the normal 20-mile effort that most fellow marathoners are doing right around this time. I'd rather go into the race with a less reactive knee than more miles under my belt. I'm confident in my current routine and how I've felt on previous long runs that I will finish. I just need to keep reminding myself that my goal is to finish, not to finish fast. The more I run long distances, the more I am convinced that I don't have the genetic gift of lots of slow twitch muscle fibers. I'm much better at running fast for a short period of time, but pushing something that doesn’t' feel very comfortable is part of the fun of the marathon for me. We'll see if I'll be calling it fun at mile 20 of 26, but right now I'm have a good time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Checking Off the Boxes – Sue

I was away last weekend, when the weather was mild, so I missed getting in a long run on Sunday. But, I thought I could get it in on Monday, but the change in the weather made it impossible. I went for four miles in the snow, and my feet were soaked! I pushed my long run to last Thursday, which was much nicer. I ran 12 miles with friends, past the Hospital, down Beacon to the reservoir and back down Comm. Ave. That just left another eight on my own, which wasn't too bad. Again, it is good to be able to check that box off.

I did go to see Carl Faust in Physical Therapy at the Hospital, who has given me great advice about my training, as well as recommending I get a “knot” in my hamstring worked out over the next few weeks. If I weren't part of this team, and knowing I have these resources available, I am sure I never would've had this issue dealt with. I would have continued on, which I am sure would have affected my training. I am not expecting it to be 100 percent, but I'm sure it will be improved.

On another note, my parents made hotel reservations to come and see me run the Marathon, so now the pressure is on!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Resorting to Cross Training - Cody

When you are training for a specific event, turning to “cross training” generally means that something has not gone according to plan. I have started cross training. Since my 16-mile run I've had growing knee pain. I've had this pain before and its usually short lived, and then I'm back on the road and feeling fine. Not this time. This time it has persisted and I'm getting sharp pain within five minutes of running. I've got a good idea for what is contributing to it and a plan to address it, but it will likely take some time to resolve. Luckily most other activities feel just fine, except for cycling (which, of course would be how I'd prefer to cross train) I can do a one-legged squat with no pain at all. Any of the gym work I've been doing feels fine. Sprints don't hurt and the elliptical feels fine too. So I have plenty of options to keep building my fitness, and I've also been able to get in two workouts per day two to three times per week as I had originally planned, but I'm having a hard time getting the mileage in. So, this weekend I'm bracing myself for a very boring couple of hours on the elliptical with some treadmill work as my knee tolerates. Hopefully I will have news of a dramatic recovery next week and I will be back outside, but for the time being I'm cross training indoors.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Gearing Up For the Big Day - Steve

Well, contrary to my coach's wisdom (my wife), and many running experts I decided that I should run another long run this weekend. My plan was to run at least fifteen minutes longer than last weekend and hopefully that would be two more miles. The day, Saturday, was beautiful and many runners were out doing their long runs. My course would be the same as the previous week except that I would run about two miles further on the marathon course. It was fun seeing all the runners out. As in the past, it has helped to gear me up for the big day. The run went quite well until I was about a mile from home when I felt something cause pain in my thigh....I was thinking stress fracture, torn quadriceps....just make it home and finish the distance. I completed the run and then went to work at home. It help to divert my mine from thinking about the pain, and it worked. Sunday, I did go out for a short, three mile run with my wife and that helped too. Today, Monday, I feel pretty good. I should have easy runs this week and the weekend will be short too. the next long run will probably be on Tuesday of next week.

Taking My Own Advice - Cody

I am not a big fan of stretching. This may seem a little hypocritical since I'm a PT and spend a fair amount of my day telling people what and why to stretch. But I also tell them that it is boring, but one of those things where there aren't any shortcuts. I've noticed that I've fallen into the pattern, as many of the people I see..... of skipping stretching if I can find any little reason not to. Recently however, my wife made me go to a yoga workshop with her and I actually found it quite helpful. I find it at least more interesting than going through a conventional stretching routine and I've actually done my little group of yoga stretches consistently after my workouts. It may help that I felt very tight after my last long run and I've had a few residual aches and pains from it, which is a good motivator to take better care of my body. I've also noticed that when I do the yoga after normal workouts I feel better than if I don't do it. So hopefully this will be the piece that I've been missing to keep my training going forward while avoiding more aches and pains on the upcoming longer runs. This past week has been a more mellow week after a week of hard workouts culminating in the 16 mile run, but the upcoming week will be a little more strenuous. Overall, I still feel like I'm on real injuries yet, good tolerance of my long runs and I'm getting most of my workouts in. My next big test will be coming up soon with a 20-22 mile run. That will be a good test of my marathon readiness and where I should spend more time in my last few weeks of training.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Running the Marathon Course – Sue

It is now eight weeks until the Marathon and it's still hard to imagine that day. I did do a training run yesterday as a guest with another running group. They took us out to Hopkinton and I literally ran home to Newton. The run was planned to go to mile 22, which I knew I wasn't ready for, so I “cut out” past the fire station on Comm. Ave since I knew I was a mile from home. It was good to get a 19-mile run out of the way, as well as to be able to scope out the course! I did have to run a stretch of it alone as my running buddy had a muscle pull at mile 11 and needed a lift home. It will be nice to have a lot of other folks around me and cheering for us on race day.

I agree with Cody in that I should have had more to eat along the way. I was going to bring GU but thought it might have been provided, so I left it behind. I tried to stop every two miles for water or Gatorade, but by mile 16 or so, I definitely could have used GU or even a few jellybeans! That's why this is training right, so we learn what to do better the next time.

Another Long Run – Steve

Once again I skied hard on Saturday and probably paid the price on Sunday. I decided to come back to Natick to do my long run since it was supposed to snow in Vermont. My run started out slow, as usual, and I traveled through Wellesley to just past the 14-mile point and then ran through Wellesley back towards Natick. After two hours and forty-seven minutes I was home and the rain started. I felt pretty good but I do have a nagging pain in my ileo psoas area...hopefully it will go away with a little extra stretch and massage. Monday will be a rest day and Tuesday, a light run around the neighborhood in Natick. I hope to get another long run in this coming weekend and extend the time to 3+ hours.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lessons Learned On My Long Run – Cody

On Monday I ran 16 miles, and like every long run I do now, it is the longest run of my life. I'm finding that long runs are different than the running I have done in the past. Here are the top three things I learned along the way on this particular run:
3) When you run for 2 1/2 hours, you should bring something to drink. When I finished I was not sweating and I drank three liters of water within about an hour when I got home.
2) You need to actually eat the food you bring on the run and you should start eating early. By mile 12, I still had ~3/4 of my Clif bar left and I “bonked.” I ate the rest of it and endured the next mile or so, then started to feel better for the last three. I should probably be eating about two of these during a run this long.
1) Donating blood before a long run is a bad idea. I gave the Red Cross a pint of my blood on Saturday and could definitely feel it on my run two days later. My average heart rate was ~20 bpm higher than past runs.

OK, so maybe I didn't actually learn much on the run. I already knew that you should eat, drink during long runs and I know that donating blood prior to an extended physical effort is a bad idea. I guess I'm an active learner. On the bright side, I finished the run with a faster per mile pace than previous runs of eight and 12 miles. I had a chance to see how I would react to some tough times, which I'll likely encounter on Marathon day. I was happy to see I could push through and keep the legs churning. Also, the things that caused the misery are easily modifiable and having experienced them, I won't be making the same mistakes on race day.

I'm still pleased with the results of my program, so I'll keep to the plan and see how I do with 20-22 miles in three weeks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Getting Ready for Heartbreak Hill - Steve

Well, this weekend was beautiful and I skied hard both Saturday and Sunday and then did my long run of two hours and 32 minutes. The weather was beautiful in Vermont and the air crisp. The hills of Vermont will surely prepare me for Heartbreak Hill. They are steeper and longer. I carried my own fluids on my back in a camel back and consumed three chocolate GUs along the way. I don't know how far I ran. I prefer to run for a specified amount of time. My goal will be to run about four hours prior to the Marathon, which will be about 20+ miles, that way I know that I can run for that length of time. During the Marathon I usually run faster than the training runs.

Running in Vermont - Steve

Well, training was rather light this week. I only ran once, but that was the most important type of run; it was a long one of two and a half hours and it felt good. The roads were dry and free of ice but the cross-town trail through Wellesley was slick with ice. Hopefully that is the last of the ice for the training. This weekend I will be ski patrolling in Vermont. After patrolling I run home three and a half miles. On Presidents’ Day I will go for a long run while in Vermont. It should be close to 16 miles and it will be a bit hilly, like Heartbreak. I will write how that goes in next week’s blog.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Back on Track - Cody

The past week has been a good one for me to get back on track with training. I've been able to be a little more consistent getting into the gym, although I'm still having a tough time getting two workouts in a few days a week. I've been feeling pretty run down with traveling two weekends ago and having to work last weekend, so I haven't been able to get much rest. I'm really looking forward to this next weekend to relax a bit. That is until I run on Monday. I'm planning on doing 16 miles, which is a bit daunting, but given how I felt on my last 12-mile run and that I've been back on track training, I think I should do well and it will give me a good sense of where I am and what I need to work on. Until then, I have a couple more hard workouts in the gym and some 800-meter repeats planned with a rest day on Sunday so I can recover and get ready for the long run.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Weather Report – Sue

Thank goodness for the milder temperatures this past week. I planned for a 16 miler last Monday and was lucky to have two friends run with me as a “tag team” - one running 10 miles and then met with the other for another six back up Comm. Ave! I took a couple days off, and started to deal with a bit of chest congestion, which is now clearing up. I was also glad to have gotten that one out of the way - and on a Monday when I didn't have to take 2 1/2 hours from family time.

This past Sunday I thought I should bump up to 18, according to a plan from Runner's World, but some of my running friends were going to do 12, so I thought that would be enough. It was mild, but windy! I am hoping the weekend looks good, since I think I will aim for at least 16 to 18. I really find myself focusing on the weather report even more than before!

Monday, February 9, 2009

An Up and Down Week - Cody

This has been an up and down week for my training. For the past few weeks I haven't been good about keeping to my plan. I was on vacation for a week in January (does skiing count as training), and the week after I got back I had some foot pain that has kept me from running or working out for about a week. I'm not quite sure why it came or what it was caused by, but it was bad enough to worry me. At the start of last week I decided I would test it and get back in the gym. Last week it didn't bother me much and I was able to get back on track. Last Saturday I ran 12 miles in one hour and 50 minutes and felt great. I ended faster than I started and my foot never hurt during or after my run. I've never run that far before and this was a benchmark workout for me. I'd previously decided if it went well I'd continue on this strengthening and minimal mileage program and if it didn’t, I would convert to a more traditional high-mileage program. Needless to say I was very encouraged after having a few weeks of minimal training and I'm continuing on with the minimal mileage program. So that was great, but this week has not been so good. Outside projects have kind of taken over my life and I haven't made it to the gym all week. Plus I'm traveling to Colorado for the lab component of a course I am taking, so I won't be able to do much training wise this weekend either. I'll get done what I can and then buckle down next week, get back in the gym and hit the road.

Monday, January 26, 2009

It's Fate - Sue

I am really excited about the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon. I live in Auburndale and have watched the race at mile 17 for years always with the thought in the back of my head of one day running it. I also use Commonwealth Ave., or Heartbreak Hill, as part of my regular running route.

When I saw the poster in the Hospital, I thought I would let fate take over, and sure enough I got picked! Now comes the anxiety about training properly while trying to remain injury free. I have been running for a number of years. While I have not run a marathon before (making the chance to run Boston as a first more unbelievable), I did run a half marathon (Boston’s Run to Remember) in May 2007. I also am part of a running “team” that has run the Reach the Beach Relay the last four years. It is a 200-mile run in NH from Cannon Mountain to Portsmouth Beach with each runner running three legs of the race with varying lengths. If it weren't for this team, I wouldn't have pushed myself in my running to even consider taking on the challenge of the marathon. I have run the Tufts 10K for several years each October as well.

As for my training, I am following an outline from Runner's World and have looked at plans online by Hal Higdon. So far I have done three 10 milers, and a 12-mile run, but the weather has not made it easy!! One of the 10-mile runs was on a treadmill - ugh! I am hoping to do at least a 12 or maybe 14-mile run this weekend. It will get harder to take the time from my family on weekends for longer runs. My kids are 12 and 10 and they, along with my husband, are supportive!

An Unconventional Approach - Cody

I have never been someone who runs just for the sake of running, I have generally done it in order to get in shape for some other sport, probably since high school. I've kept it up somewhat since I don't participate in organized sports anymore, but I've never done it all that consistently. The furthest I had run since beginning my training was seven miles. So I suppose I really started an organized running program in November when I learned I would be running the Marathon.

As a physical therapist, I have worked with many people who have run marathons and the idea of doing it at least once in my life has been something I've been thinking about for a while. I guess I want to prove to myself that I can do it. When I was in physical therapy school, I worked at Marathon Sports (the shoe store), and there was always lots of talk about training for and finishing marathons, especially Boston. I've worked with many people who have been training for a marathon, but have been interrupted by injury. I also volunteered at last year’s Boston, working with the wheelchair athletes and I worked at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Post-Marathon Injury Clinic. Despite being around it so much, I hadn't experienced it myself. Now I have that opportunity.

I am taking a slightly less conventional approach to marathon training. Most programs prescribe variable lengths of long, slow distances as the primary form of training. My experience as a PT working with people who are training for marathons along with my time at the shoe store tells me this is not the approach for me. I've seen far too many people with training-related injuries that are made worse on race day. I've had ex-professional runners tell me that conventional programs have a lot of “junk miles.” I also think that I would go crazy if my only training was running, so I'm taking a different approach. Whether this is smart or not, I'm not sure yet, but we'll see. The program consists of five days per week of workouts I'm taking from a website ( consisting of high-intensity, often circuit training using body weight, dumbbells, barbells, and Olympic lifts, combined with running. One to two of these days will be supplemented with an additional workout of short-distance interval running. Additionally, I will have one medium distance run per week (six to 10 miles) at my fastest possible pace. Long, slow runs will be every two to four weeks with distances approaching 20 miles. So, that's the plan at this point, but if I feel that my long distance runs are not progressing as I'd like, I'll switch to a more conventional program. So far it’s working though, because after three weeks of a less involved version of this program, I ran eight miles (the furthest I'd ever run) easily.

To get in two workouts a day, two days per week, I have to wake up earlier to get the first one in. That means up at 4:30 am for me. I will also have to switch to driving to work rather than taking the T because the T does not run early enough. Training has also made me become much more efficient with my time (which really means I watch less TV) because I have quite a few other things swirling around my life and I need to make sure I have time for everything while still enjoying the journey!

My 32nd Marathon - Steve

I started running over thirty years ago with short three to five mile runs. I lived up in New Hampshire at the time and a friend of ours had a husband that ran marathons and that inspired both my wife and I to start running, but never a marathon. I moved to Massachusetts to study anesthesia at Carney Hospital. We lived on the Boston Marathon course in Natick. One April in 1982 we went out shopping and tried to return to our apartment and found throngs of people blocking our way to our apartment. I asked, “What is going on?” It's “The Boston Marathon”. So I decided that I should try that. The following year, after I graduated from my anesthesia program, I planned to run my first Boston, at the back of the pack.

This will be my 32nd marathon and my 21st Boston. I ran Baystate, Maine, Vermont City, Cape Cod, San Diego, Marine Corp, New York City, Hartford, Chicago and Ocean State. The Boston Marathon is the best marathon and this may very well be my last.My plans for training are to run as often as my schedule will allow and make sure that I get my long runs in. Fortunately my family life makes my training easier now. Our children are grown and out of the house and that allows me to run after work. My concern about running the 08 Boston Marathon is the weather. We have had a lot of snow and this makes it difficult to get the long runs in. The roads are getting narrow and evening running can be dangerous. The running surface is not too bad just the room to run.